For much of his football career, quarterback Casey Printers looked like a man in a big hurry.
He was in a rush to be a starter, couldn’t wait to go to the NFL, was anxious to prove himself again when he returned to the CFL with Hamilton.
So when Printers walked off the field Tuesday after his first practice with the B.C. Lions, it was refreshing to hear him talk about patience and his willingness to wait for his chance.
“It is part of the process,” said the 2004 league MVP, who has joined the Lions as a practice roster player. “When you’ve gone through all the things I have gone through, I’ve seen a lot and been through a lot.
“You have to be patient as a quarterback.”
If you believe Printers — and at this point there is no reason not to — he’s learned something from his failed attempt to land a job with the Kansas City Chiefs and two mediocre seasons with the Tiger-Cats.
He also spoke about having a better understanding of why quarterbacks like Ricky Ray in Edmonton, Anthony Calvillo in Montreal and Henry Burris in Calgary have achieved long-term success.
“I’ve sat back and watched,” said Printers, who hasn’t played football in a year. “I’ve tried to perfect the craft of being a quarterback outside of the field.
“That is the main thing I have taken away from watching those guys. The patience, and seeing the game the way they do. I’ve become a student of it.”
Printers spent practice working with the second-team players. Buck Pierce, who is expected to start when the Lions play the Calgary Stampeders on Friday night, and Travis Lulay worked with the first team.
Printers showed the time away hasn’t affected his arm. He launched a few rockets down field and zinged a couple short passes that made a loud smack when the receiver caught them.
“It felt pretty good,” said the 28-year-old. “I have to get back into the swing of it. That won’t take too long.”
The Lions have signed Printers as an insurance policy. Pierce is prone to concussions, Jarious Jackson is out with a injured rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder, and Lulay is a CFL rookie.
Learning the Lions’ offence won’t take Printers long. What is more important is getting a feel for his teammates.
“You need to have the camaraderie,” he said. “You have to know the guys that are next to you, how they work, how they think. Those factors play a part in a quarterback’s success.”
That’s a lesson Printers learned when he joined Hamilton midway through the 2007 season. He wanted to play, but didn’t spend time getting to know the rest of the team.
“I stepped back on the field prematurely,” he said. “You saw the production.”
In 23 games over two seasons, Printers threw for 2,667 yards, six touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Printers began his professional career with the Lions in 2003. The next year, when starter Dave Dickenson was hurt, he stepped in and threw for over 5,000 yards, 35 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He also ran for 489 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Lions went to the Grey Cup that year but Printers watched the team lose from the sidelines after Buono decided to play Dickenson the entire game.
Printers has never been able to live up to the promise of that one season. There have been questions about his character and attitude.
The fact no other CFL was willing to sign him this season says something.
Was it a case of success coming too quickly?
“Everything has happened perfectly,” said Printers. “I believe nothing has happened by chance.
“It made me the man I am today. Because of that, I think you will see a different player on the field.”